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Mason, Flyers shut out struggling Maple Leafs

by Adam Kimelman /

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason said he had a feeling early in the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday that there wouldn't be a whole lot of offense.

He was proven right, and the Flyers needed every one of his 30 saves in a 1-0 victory.

It was the 25th shutout of Mason's career, and came with NHL record-holder Martin Brodeur watching from the press box in his new role as adviser to the general manager of the St. Louis Blues.

"I think he's got 100-plus shutouts on me," Mason said. "I don't think he's too worried about me."

After his 2008-09 rookie season in which Mason had a League-leading 10 shutouts, he certainly was on a solid course.

"After my first year I was [trying to catch Brodeur]," Mason said. "Slowed down the pace but I'll take 25 at 26 years of age."

He had to put in a strong effort to get No. 25, which came in his 100th game with the Flyers (22-22-7).

Mason best save came with 5:15 remaining in the third period when Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly skated out from behind the Flyers net and had an open look from in front. Mason lunged forward and got a piece of the shot with his right shoulder and sent it into the netting above the glass.

"That [top of the net was] pretty much all he had," Mason said. "He didn't do a tight wrap so he coasted out. I was trying to make myself as big as possible and I was able to get a shoulder on it."

James Reimer made 17 saves for the Maple Leafs (22-25-4).

The loss was the Maple Leafs' ninth straight (0-8-1) and 16th in their past 20 games (3-16-1). It also was the eighth time in their past nine games they've scored one goal or fewer.

"The guys did work hard," Maple Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek said. "We got some shots and chances. I think that to find your way out of this situation we're going to have to spend more time, get more people at the net. We're still trying to look for plays and there's times where we need to create more traffic, more chaos in the blue area, more rebound goals. So we're going to have to spend more time driving to the net. They're tough to buy right now."

Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto scored at 4:05 of the first period. Forward Petr Straka entered the Maple Leafs zone and centered to a pinching Del Zotto, who fought off the backchecking Daniel Winnik to lift a shot that beat Reimer to the far side, past his glove.

The goal extended Del Zotto's career-long point streak to six games; he has three goals and four assists in that span.

Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds drew an assist on the goal to extend his point streak to three games. Simmonds and teammate Jakub Voracek each played in their 500th NHL game Saturday.

It's the first time since Nov. 2, 2013 the Flyers have won a 1-0 game in regulation.

Del Zotto's goal was the only significant offense the Flyers had. After getting nine shots in the first period they had nine in the final two periods.

"It was the vibe I was getting almost right from the start, like one goal would have to be enough," Mason said. "And that's what it turned out to be. For a goaltender, you have to focus on the next shot and not look at the big picture. If you do that you'll probably make a mistake, just thinking about too much. For myself it was to make the next save."

With 3:25 remaining in the first period, Mason kicked out his right pad to stop a Winnik deflection of a Jake Gardiner shot, and with 1:54 remaining he lunged forward to deny an open Nazem Kadri from the slot with his right arm and chest.

Toronto had the best chance of the second period when it was shorthanded. Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov tipped a Mark Streit pass at the Toronto blue line back into the Philadelphia zone and pressured Streit after he won the race for the puck. Streit tried pushing the puck along the wall to Voracek but Komarov took it away from him and found Tyler Bozak cutting to the net. Bozak took a wrist shot from the slot but Mason got his left pad on it to deny the scoring chance with 5:38 left in the period.

After Mason stopped Rielly on the wraparound in the third, he stopped a blast from the left circle from Maple Leafs leading scorer Phil Kessel on a power play.

"I thought that one shot at the end, that last faceoff there, we had Leo and [David Clarkson] in front of the net, a lot of scrum going on," Horachek said. "We put it in his [Kessel's] hands. I couldn't see where the shot went but I saw net. I was standing up on the bench [thinking] it's going in, but it didn't."

Not much has gone in recently for the Maple Leafs, who were shut out for the sixth time this season and fourth time in their past nine games. The Leafs have seven goals in their past nine games. They've allowed three goals or fewer in six of those games but haven't been able to turn that solid defense into transition offense.

"It's tough," Maple Leafs forward Peter Holland said. "We have so much firepower in this room. It's easy to want to just take it upon yourself and try to go down and beat five guys, but you can't do that at this level. There's times where we do get away from it and we have lapses of thinking out there and we turn the puck over and that's when they create opportunities. We have to make sure we stick with the game plan and do it as a five-man unit."

Horachek believes continuing to work hard will get the Maple Leafs out of their funk.

"As a group we're going to learn what kind of resilience we have, what kind of mental toughness and resolve we have," he said. "We're going to get through this. We're going to work our way through this by playing playoff-type hockey. By putting more pucks to the net and getting those kind of goals rather than the goals you score in October. That's one of those areas we have to start doing more."

The Flyers won their fourth straight game and moved to within nine points of the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Sometimes it won't be pretty, but two points are what counts," Voracek said.


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